Conflict between Shylock and Antonio in the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

Updated November 24, 2021

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Conflict between Shylock and Antonio in the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare essay

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It is often said that money is the root of all evil, it can cause conflicts between people of the same or different tribe, however, money is also significant in resolving some conflicts. This essay serves to contend and address comprehensively and analytically the conflict caused by money between Shylock and Antonio in the Merchant of Venice play by William Shakespeare and their conversational engagement in detail. This essay will intensively focus on, firstly, the relationship between Shylock and Antonio, secondly, the root of their conflict and ultimately, how money fuels their rivalry.

Firstly, Shylock and Antonio know each other slightly well because they are doing a common business to lend people money, however, their differences is caused by two main factors and that is the tribal differences as well as their way of doing business. Antonio does not believe in charging interest when borrowing or lending out to his clients and to the contrary, that is how Shylock makes his money. The clash in their way of doing business leads to both carrying resentment for each other, it simply does not make them allies (Shakespeare, 1961).

Shylock interprets interest as a way of multiplying his profit and increasing his business and on the contrary, Antonio interprets it as exploiting and taking advantage of people. In addition, Shylock feels disrespected by how Antonio labels him, how he name calls him more like a villain for doing his business in his way. Furthermore, Antonio does not show remorse in the deed of name calling and labeling, even though Shylock tries to penetrate Antonio by quoting his Christian Bible, Antonio just does not buy it.

Secondly, the business conflict between these two went to as far as the arousal of their tribal differences to intensify their conflict. Shylock makes it clear that he has a problem with Christians as they have a conflict with the Jews, as Christians always question the ways of the Jews and how they perceive themselves better. Shylock carried a more intense vicious and malicious will for Antonio, firstly for how he weakens the competition of their business by not charging interest and secondly, he hated him for that he is a Christian. In the engagement between these two men, Shylock kept on playing around the insults from Antonio, how he views him as a dog, how he spits on him and also how at the same time he needs his help.

Shylock’s emphasis on his engagement words significantly shows how he carried some kind of vengeance, he wanted to revenge against Antonio for all he believes Antonio has wronged him with. This brings to the picture that while Antonio was just seeking to help his friend out, the resentful Jew wanted leverage, he wanted a hold to serve his ego and revenge towards Antonio the Christian. The Jew was hungry to have a hold over his counterpart and that is why he chose the clause of his flesh in return (Halio, 2000).

The significant impact of money in this play is that it represents uncertainty, as much money could be easily gained by these two businessmen is as easily as money could be lost. The Jew wanted to capitalize upon this uncertainty. Antonio and Shylock run their businesses differently without crossing each other, however, money made them cross their path, need each other and to seal a contract with a very dangerous clause.

Money has turned the good man into the hands of his resentful Jewish enemy. The Jew had nothing to lose but had everything to win if things turned out the way he anticipated, the only way for Shylock to have leverage against his Christian enemy was to play smart and capitalize upon the desperation of the good hearted Antonio so that he can help his friend (Adelman 2008).

The Jew was a wealthy man, he needed no money at all to gain from Antonio and that is why he charged no interest, he had a score to settle and that is to prove who is superior between the two. He wanted to entomb the good hearted Christian to pain and he had no other source of leverage to do that, except for money. The Jew ironically suggested for friendship but Antonio immediately rejected the request and asked to be loaned as an enemy, and it turns out, the same money that lead to the conflict of these two men is the same money that will lead Shylock to pursue his vengeance.

In conclusion, this essay has intensively and comprehensively explained the differences between Shylock and Antonio, it has given in explanations and demonstration to try and address the conflict and the main cause for it. This essay has highlighted the significance of money, how it plotted the whole play by tying the knot of the conflict as well as how it settled the score between these two men.

Reference List

  1. Adelman J. (2008) Christian and Jew in the Merchant of Venice. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
  2. Shakespeare, W. (1961) The Merchant of Venice. Newark: University of Delaware Publications
  3. Halio, J.L (2000) Understanding The Merchant of Venice. Johnson County: Greenwood Press Publications
Conflict between Shylock and Antonio in the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare essay

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Conflict between Shylock and Antonio in the Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare. (2021, Nov 24). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/conflict-between-shylock-and-antonio-in-the-merchant-of-venice-by-william-shakespeare/


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